Quick-Step Floors boss Patrick Lefevere says motorbikes are having too much effect in deciding races, claiming the breakaway at Amstel Gold Race were able to slipstream behind them as his team chased behind.
The Belgian team missed out on a podium at the Dutch Classic on Sunday, with only Julian Alaphilippe able to make it into the select eight-man group that contested victory at the end.
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But Lefevere said his team were made to work harder than necessary to chase down the race’s breakaway riders thanks to the draft of the motorbikes, with Pieter Serry working at full effort behind at the front of the main bunch.
“I do not want to be a bad loser, but the role of the bikes in the race is outrageous,” Lefevere said after Amstel Gold, according to La Dernière Heure.
“This applies to races elsewhere other than this Amstel. While Pieter Serry was giving maximum effort at the front of the group of favourites, the breakaway continued to gain ground because of the slipstream of the motorbikes.”
The Belgian said the bikes should drop behind the front group after the gap drops to a certain time, and also suggested that he would take the matter up with UCI president David Lappartient.
“[With the gap below] 20 seconds, they must drop behind the leading men. I will write a letter on this subject to the UCI president David Lappartient because it can not continue. It is the motorbikes who decide the race…”
Despite fielding a strong team that contained Alaphilippe as well as defending champion and four-time winner Philippe Gilbert, Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra and Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels, Quick-Step were unable influence the race as much as they have done in recent cobbled Classics.
Only Alaphilippe was able to follow Valverde’s attack on the Geulhemmerberg, with Gilbert dropping in the group behind. Michael Valgren (Astana) eventually won the race after an attack with Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott) at 2km to go, with Alaphilippe ultimately finishing seventh from the chasers.
“It is the first time in a few weeks that we are not present on the podium of a Classic,” Lefevere added.
“Alaphilippe made an effort twice behind Valverde, and that emptied his legs. Philippe was just a bit short. As is often here [at Amstel], it comes down a little bit to who keeps their cool for the longest.
“It’s very difficult to escape the control that some teams put on the race.”
The Ardennes Classics week continues on Wednesday with La Flèche Wallonne.